Oh the night that Paddy Murphy died, is a night I’ll never forget,
Some of the boys got loaded drunk, and they ain’t got sober yet;
As long as a bottle was passed around every man was feelin’ gay
O’Leary came with the bagpipes, some music for to playThe Night Paddy Murphey Died – Great Big Sea
It was 1997. I was still a wet-behind-the-ears homebrewer who just made the switch to all-grain. The craft beer scene was a thing that was happening elsewhere, and imported beers were a relatively rare treat. But there were two things that were consistent in those days: the local pub had Murphy’s Stout on tap, and the Canadian folk band Great Big Sea would have a song on the charts. My friends and I spent many evenings in that pub, drinking Murphy’s and playing pool. That is, until the pub closed, cutting off our (local) access to what at the time was my favourite beer.
This tragic event led to my (and my then brew-buddy)’s first attempt to clone a beer. We didn’t get a perfect clone, but we did end up with a great dry stout. This was one of the most brewed recipes in our early repertoire. We named it after the (then) popular Great Big Sea song The Night Paddy Murphy Died. I’m sure we thought that was very witty and droll name, but in retrospect, its just plain obvious. It was a popular beer among our friends, and often requested in advance of a party. We also used it a lot as “stealth beer” – a dark beer put into a cola bottle that could be taken to dry events.
Anyway’s, I’d largely forgotten about this beer until a few months ago, when by chance, I came across the recipe in my old brewing log. Warm memories of my youth washed over me, leaving a strong desire to re-brew the beer.
So was it as good as my vague memory suggests, or did I destroy a precious memory of my youth?
Recipe – The Night Paddy Murphy Died
Note that the hop schedule is a bit odd simply because my Northern Brewer had slightly lower alpha acids than expected, so I needed a touch of warrior to get the IBU’s up to the desired 37. Any English bittering hop can be used in lieu of Northern Brewer.
Before I go into the breakdown I just want to say that yes, this beer lived up to my memory of it, and would stand up well against more modern dry stout recipes. Is it a Murphy’s clone? It is close, but I wouldn’t go so far as to claim its an exact clone.
Appearance: Midnight black, with hints of garnet when held up to a bright light. Pours with a course beige head that collapses into a long-lasting fine head.
Aroma: Wonderful roast character, closer to coffee than chocolate, with a hint of malty sweetness and a touch of apple-pear yeast esters.
Flavour: A very smooth roast character, balanced by a bit of malt sweetness, dominates the beer. While not overly bitter, the hop bitterness is enough to tone down the beer as to be not overly sweet. The roast and sweet notes fade in parallel, leaving behind a bit of a coffee and malt note in the after taste.
Mouthfeel: Light and easy to drink, and yet, with enough body to stand up to the roast character.
Overall: This recipe has stood the test of time, and more than 20 years later this still brews up an excellent beer. I’d put this beer up against any dry or Irish stout and expect it to fare well. Easy drinking, and yet flavourful. Light, and yet with great presence. Its a stout through-and-through, easy to brew, and a joy to drink.